Which Apple router should I buy?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by FrenchPB, Jul 5, 2014.

  1. FrenchPB macrumors 6502

    Sep 15, 2005

    I don't know much about routers, so I hope you guys can help me pick the one I need based on my need.

    I have a modem/router combo given by my internet provider, but its wifi range is too limited to get good internet speed on the other side of the house. As a consequence, I'd like to buy an AirPort station that I'd plug in a room on the opposite of the house (there is a RJ45 plug in that room), and thus extend that wifi range.

    I have a couple of questions :
    • If I move my laptop from one side of the house to the other, will I have to change my wireless connection to get the best speed available (either the modem from my internet provider or the airport station) ?
    • I'd like to plug a USB harddrive to the station to have a shared drive in the house. Should I plug it to the airport station or to my modem/router ? Will I be able to access it easily even if I'm connected to the other router ?
    • I have a 2012 MBA and 2011 iMac. As a consequence, it's my understanding that I don't need 802.11ac. Is that correct ?
    • There is a 2011 refurbished airport extreme available for €79. Would that be the best device at the best price for my needs ?

    Thanks for your help :)
  2. FrenchPB thread starter macrumors 6502

    Sep 15, 2005
    Could I store my movies on a shared drive connected to an airport extreme, have them decoded on my iMac and airplayed to the Apple TV linked to my HDTV in the living room ?

    Would that work ? I'd like to avoind encoding all my video files to an itunes format.
  3. tdale macrumors 65816

    Aug 11, 2013
    Christchurch, N.Z.
    Consensus I read over and over is that they are expensive and low range
  4. Cartaphilus macrumors 6502a

    Dec 24, 2007
    For me, the combination of an inexpensive modem and the Apple Time Capsule has been just perfect. The router aspect of it is very easy to configure and manage, and the automatic backups are simply unnoticeable and relieve me of a chore I too often skipped.

    If you have, or will have, devices that can all handle 802.11(n) or a/c, the router will use one of two networks it manages simultaneously, one at a frequency that offers higher speed but more rapidly fading signal strength with distance, and another that trades off speed for a more far-reaching signal. I found that the range of the Time Capsule is wider than any other I've tried.

    Coupled with an Airport Express to deliver music from any of your devices to powered speakers, and the system also extends its range as a bonus.

    Bonne chance!
  5. phrehdd macrumors 68040


    Oct 25, 2008
    There are several ways to go about what you are trying to achieve but alas, it is unclear how "extreme" in distance, interference and barriers your home would be for WiFi.

    This is just one opinion -

    1) Abandon entirely the router part of your modem/router unit. Just use it as a modem. Get a router that you can fully control to handle your home system. If you know you are going to use your service for a long time (2-3 years minimum), you could consider replacing the rental modem/router with a purchased router. Providers often give mention to which modems they work well with and preferably "DOCSIS 3."

    2) Which router you get is a personal choice and having gone through several versions of the Airport Extreme I can say they usually work nicely but are a bit pricey and not always rated the highest in actual usage. The second facet is whether you want to go with the latest WiFi option of "AC" or "N." Does your computers and other devices support AC? If not, then the only reason to get a router that supports it is to hopefully later be able to have devices that can exploit it.

    3) You may want to browse through Smallnetbuilder site. They provide reasonable reviews with tests on various routers. Airport Extreme in a list of 10, ranked 6th overall and 2nd in costs. Not a very good ratio.

    4) Other items you might want to check into -
    a) two routers in bridge mode to cover the home if needed
    b) powerline devices (only caveat would be poorly electrically wired homes)

    5) Using an external drive on a router can be very useful but comes often with its own share of issues. If you only use one computer to handle iTunes, it would be wiser to have the drive directly attached to that computer. If you have multiple computers wanting to use the same files, you can of course attempt to share the drive attached to the router (if not one computer doing home sharing). There are several permutations of this type of plan.
    Just some food for thought
  6. Boyd01 macrumors 68040


    Feb 21, 2012
    New Jersey Pine Barrens
    You can store your iTunes Library on an external drive or a shared drive. The shared drive approach can have some issues however. If you are using wifi, then it will be slow. If the Apple TV is also connected via wifi, it will be even slower. It should work, but there will be a lot of latency.

    If the shared drive becomes unavailable for any reason while iTunes is running, your Library may become corrupted. And the library can only be used on one computer at a time - it is not multi-user.

    If you are doing this on an iMac, I don't think there would be any advantage to using a shared drive for this. Just put the library on a directly connected external drive if it doesn't fit on the internal drive.

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